“It’s like the kids don’t know how to write at home. I’m getting emails asking what a small moment is,” a first grade teacher shared during a Google Hangout this week.
We talked about how we needed to regroup and share a vision for writing workshop with families and help kids envision their school routines at home. Do parents really know what their kids are capable of when it comes to writing?
“We can think about our work with shared writing,” I thought aloud, the wheels in my brain already churning trying to think through how to make this happen using the various forms of new technology that have been bombarding us all.
“I have some ideas,” I told the group. “How about I try to create something to share by the weekend and then you can give me feedback. We can go from there.”
That’s where we left things and my mind never stopped whirling as I worked to think this through.
I awoke early the next morning (if I want any quiet thinking/working time these days 4 am seems to be the sweet spot), still thinking. I decided I needed a document camera so I could model my own writing. So, I went onto Amazon and ordered the model that would arrive the soonest. It seems that document cameras may also be in high demand… kind of like toilet paper, meat, and basically everything else these days.
Later, like 8am later, when I texted my team to tell them about my purchase, I got an idea that I might be able to use our iPad as a digital whiteboard. I could model writing that way. A quick Google search told me that this was possible, so I logged back into Amazon to cancel my document camera order.
The rest of the day was a blur of meetings, a growing to-do list, sprinkled in with some interacting with my own children. I never had a chance to think more about creating a video writing lesson before I crashed in bed with Wren, also part of the daily routine.
When 4am rolled around the next day, I was up and determined to make the plans in my head a reality. I decided to use Google Slides to create a shell of my lesson, embed a video created with my document camera hack, and then record the entire micro lesson using Screen Castify. Would this crazy plan work?
I wouldn’t find out until nearly 14 hours later, after another busy day of juggling working from home and entertaining three kids who had a surprise “day off” from school so their teachers could regroup on this distance learning thing.
Realizing it would never be quiet, I persuaded Wren to take Rose down to the playroom in the basement to keep her busy for a few minutes. I also tricked Adi into thinking I needed her help, sitting super still and quiet next to me as I recorded my lesson…to make sure I was doing a good job.
I only had time for one take, my first time ever using Screen Castify. I knew Rose would only last so long in the basement before she would have to show me or tell me something.
I pressed the stop record button just as I heard footsteps coming up the basement stairs. I looked over at Adi, “I don’t think it was that good,” she said, taking her job very seriously.
We all sat and watched my first ever virtual writing lesson. It wasn’t perfect, but I still felt pretty proud that all of my crazy brain activity finally found a way out. I felt hopeful that we just might be able to keep teaching kids to write in these crazy times. Hopefully we can iron out some of the kinks in the process…